Announcing your content to users
After you set up your Windows Media server and the content you want to stream, you must let users know the content is available and how to access it. Users can access content by typing the URL to the content in their players. However, users do not always know the URL or even that your content exists. To make it easy for users to access your content, you can create an announcement. An announcement is a Windows Media metafile with an .asx extension that gives a player the information needed to connect to a Windows Media server.
Announcement files are most often used to provide access to streaming media content from a Web page link. When the user clicks the link, the browser downloads and reads the announcement file. Then the browser opens the Player and accesses the URL. Announcement files should be used instead of direct links in Web pages, because many browsers cannot access streaming media content directly.
Announcing a unicast stream
To enable players to access a unicast stream, you can create an announcement file by using the Unicast Announcement Wizard. An announcement provides the information that the player needs to connect to and receive your content. You can place a link to an announcement on a Web page, make the announcement available on a shared network location, or send an announcement in an e-mail message. Users can access your content either by clicking the link on the Web page or by directly opening the announcement.
Announcing a multicast stream
To enable players to access a multicast stream, you can create an announcement file and a multicast information file by using the Multicast Announcement Wizard. An announcement provides the information that the player needs to connect to and receive your content.
A multicast information file is a Windows Media metafile with an .nsc extension that contains information a player needs to decode the stream. Because a client does not connect directly to a server to receive a multicast broadcast, multicast information files are used to provide clients with all the necessary connection and stream information, also known as header information. Often an announcement file is used to distribute the multicast information file. You can place a link to the announcement on a Web page, make the announcement available on a shared file location, or send an announcement in an e-mail message. Users can access the announcement either by clicking the link to the announcement on the Web page or by directly opening the announcement. The announcement opens briefly, points to the multicast information file, and then the player begins receiving the content.
Before announcing your content to users, you should test the stream to make sure your configuration is working as expected.